Lower Cape Fear River Program
Benthic Research and Monitoring
| Benthic monitoring for the Lower Cape Fear River
Program, conducted by the UNCW Benthic Ecology Laboratory under the guidance of
Posey and Mr. Troy Alphin, began in spring
1996. This monitoring effort, which focuses on the upper oligohaline estuary down
through the lower polyhaline estuary, targets the benthic infauna (sediment grabs).
Other projects in the Benthic Ecology Laboratory compliment this sampling effort and
include epibenthic trawls and juvenile Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) research
in the estuary.
The benthic monitoring component has four major long-term objectives: 1) characterize the benthic communities in the Lower Cape Fear River and compare them with other river-dominated estuaries to gain a first-order assessment of estuarine health, 2) determine seasonal, annual and spatial patterns of variability, 3) establish correlations between benthic abundances and physical measures, and 4) establish a baseline for detecting changes in the estuarine community through examination of changes in abundances of specific indicator taxa and eventual application of standard benthic indices.